Thursday, November 15, 2007

House Passes Defense Bill With Timetable

The Democrats in the House finally do what we elected them to do.

The House yesterday approved a war funding bill that directs President Bush to withdraw most troops from Iraq by the end of next year, escalating a feud between the White House and congressional Democrats over spending priorities in wartime.

The measure, part of a bill that would provide $50 billion to fund the war over the next four months, was passed 218 to 203, with one member voting present. It provides about one-quarter of Bush’s 2008 request for $196 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We want a plan in Iraq…. We want stability in the Middle East,” Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, said minutes before the vote. “We want to put a plan in place that holds the president accountable.”

The bill stands virtually no chance of being enacted. Amid recent reports of progress in Iraq, Bush, who is determined not to let Congress restrict how he conducts the war, has threatened a veto.

Democrats know that but say that their efforts to limit the war since taking control of Congress in January are a political — and, some say, moral — necessity. “The American people voted for change,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday. “We ought to extricate American men and women… from refereeing a civil war.”

The bill’s passage got the predictable response from the White House:

“This is for political posturing and to appease radical groups,” chiefly MoveOn.org and Code Pink, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday.

Yeah, and the 70% of the citizens who want us to get out of Iraq. Who knew that MoveOn.org and Code Pink had such power? (And if they did, why are they always hitting me up for money?)

Sure, this bill is going nowhere. It’s a gesture — more like flipping the bird — from the Democrats to the administration, but it’s a better than the whimpering and whining they’ve been doing for the last ten months. Bush will veto it, the Orcosphere will whip out the old talking points about “Defeatocrats” and “cutting and running,” but the bill still won’t get signed, and the Congress controls the money. If this is the way to get the attention of the administration and if the Democrats can, at long last, unite and show some spine, it may actually get some results.

One can only hope.